How to get a Dutch driving license? (non EU/EFTA)

Until when can you exchange your driving license after moving to the Netherlands, and how do you do that?
Getting a Dutch driving license when you meet the requirements for conversion is rather smooth, therefore it is good to be prepared!

NB. The rules for EU and non-EU foreign countries differ significantly, therefore this post holds solely for non EU/EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) citizens. If you are EU/EFTA citizen, please refer to the analogous post for EU/EFTA citizens.

You have to hold a Dutch driving license when living in the Netherlands. But when and how to convert?

1. When do you have to get a Dutch driving license?

When first moving to the Netherlands, you can temporarily drive with the driving license in your possession – if still valid.
With a driving license issued in a country outside Europe and EFTA, you can drive for 185 days – counting since the day you moved to the Netherlands.
After this time, you will have to exchange it into a Dutch one at the municipality, or pass the exam to get a Dutch driving license if conversion is not possible.

2. How to convert your foreign driving license into a Dutch one

The request can be submitted to your own municipality.
The requisites, necessary documents and procedure are listed below.

Requisites

  1. You are registered in the BRP (Basisregistratiepersonen) – that is – you have a valid BSN (Burgerservicenummer)
  2. You hold a valid residence permit
  3. Your driving license is from (for simple car license) Andorra, Canada (only Alberta and Québec provinces), Israel, Japan, Jersey, Man, Monaco, Singapore, Taiwan, Antilles, South-Korea, former Dutch Antilles or Aruba.
    Such countries have exchange contracts with the Netherlands
  4. Exception to rule 3. is that you work under the 30% ruling.
    That is: if you fall under the 30% ruling, you can exchange your driving license independently of the country of issue. In this case you will need a declaration (Beschikking Bewijsregel) from the tax office (Belastingdienst), that you can request together with your employer
  5. Your driving license is still valid
  6. Your driving license must have been issued to you in a period of one year, in which you have been resident at least 185 days in the country of issue of this driving license.
    You can show this with a copy of your passport, a declaration of your employer, payslip or tax documents
  7. You have the minimum age required in the Netherlands for the category of the driving license you want to exchange

Necessary (original) documents

  • Passport photograph, satisfying the conditions of the Fotomatrix Model 2020. My personal advice for this point: get the photo done at a professional photographer. For a little money, they can make sure your picture meets the requirements.
    Another tip for this point: is your photo (also taken at an automatic photo machine) rejected? You may be able to request the refund!
  • Your driving license
  • Valid passport or ID
  • A declaration of suitability (Verklaring van Geschiktheid) from the CBR.
    You will need fill in a self-declaration of healthiness (Gezondheidsverklaring) and send it to the CBR. You can buy the form on the website of the CBR, or in some municipalities (for a list check it here). The CBR will decide on the basis of that information if more checks are needed or will send you the Verklaring van Geschiktheid.
    NB. be careful and buy the declaration that applies to your specific case! There are different categories. For example for car driving license if you are younger than 75 years old, you can request the Gezondheidsverklaring. MijnCBR will direct you to the proper category.
  • *only if the original driving license is written in another script, e.g. Japanese – a translation of your driving license
  • *only if you resort to the 30% ruling to have your own driving license converted – declaration (Beschikking Bewijsregel) from the tax office (Belastingdienst)

Procedure

  1. Make an appointment at the municipality where you are registered
  2. Go to the municipality, with all documents mentioned above
  3. Fill in the request for exchanging your driving license into a Dutch one on the spot (Aanvraag omwisseling Nederlands rijbewijs)
  4. The municipality will forward the information to the RDW
  5. Within 10 days, if all documents are fine, you will then receive a letter from the RDW mentioning the moment you can pick up your new Dutch driving license at the municipality. This is normally in the following five days
  6. Go to the municipality. Make sure to have an ID/passport with you to get your new driving license.

NB Your original driving license will be sent back to your home country and thus you won’t get it back. In case you have multiple categories on your original driving license but you want to make use of only some of them in the Netherlands (and thus on your Dutch driving license), you can fill in a waiver (afstandsverklaringlinked here). This way you can put these categories on hold without losing them and possibly reactivate them at a later moment.

3. Transition period

How long does it take before I get my driving license? And can I drive in the meanwhile?

On the website of the RDW it is mentioned it takes 10 days to get a response, and on the website of the municipality of Eindhoven it is mentioned the whole procedure will take 2 to 4 weeks (in my case it has been little shorter than 2 weeks).
In the meanwhile, you are not allowed to drive a car.

4. How much does it cost?

There are some costs linked to the conversion that you will be asked to pay at the moment of filling in the request at the municipality.
Costs vary per municipality. In Eindhoven, it costs 41 euro.
Furthermore, the declaration of healthiness (Gezondheidsverklaring) costs this year 39.30 euro. This is the basic price for the declaration, but you could be asked an additional payment in case of e.g. additional medical checks.

5. Useful words and abbreviations

(het) rijbewijs – the driving license
omwisselen – exchange
RDW – Department of Road Transport
(de) aanvraag – request
CBR – Central Office for Motor Vehicle Driver Testing

Sources and useful links

Last updated 05/01/2021. Disclaimer.
Featured image by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

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